Andy's Polyology Pages Andy's Polyology Pages


The motley collection of topics on this page are mostly to do with art, architecture and the peculiarities of the English language.

Needle Tower

The first time I saw one of Kenneth Snelson's needle towers was in the sculpture garden of the Kröller-Müller Museum at Otterloo in Holland. From a distance the tower seemed to be defying gravity. Closer to, I could hear the creaking of the tension wires as it swayed slightly in the breeze. I still can't grasp how how such a structure is held in equilibrium by a few cables.

As a young man, Snelson was influenced by Buckminster Fuller and developed the structural principles of tensegrity upon which his needle towers and many other sculptures are based. Snelson's large-scale sculpture blurs the boundary between art and architecture.

Kröller-Müller Museum 'Needletower II'
This is the Kröller-Müller needle tower.
Kenneth Snelson - Needle Tower
This one is in the Hirshhorn museum and sculpture garden.
Kenneth Snelson - Preview Gallery
This site has photos of Snelson himself and a number of his scuptures.
Kenneth Snelson
Snelson's own site with many of his sculptures, and an introduction to his principles of tensegrity.
Intro to Synergetics
Buckminster Fuller's architectural legacy - "Synergetics is a philosophy wherein geometric concepts serve as central metaphors".

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Jantar Mantar

Jantar Mantar is the Indian name for a stone observatory, a collection of huge astronomical instruments constructed out of masonry. In the early 1700s, five of these observatories were built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II of Jaipur - in Jaipur, Delhi, Ujjain, Mathura and Varanasi. All except the one in Mathura are still standing today. Visiting one is a truly strange experience - part amusement park, part science fantasy filmset - for a virtual tour see the first link below.

Jantar Mantar
This web-project is still in progress. It has an amazing 3D tour of the Jantar Mantar at Jaipur (needs Apple Quicktime). I hope that the Jantar Mantar at Delhi is added at some point.
Jantar Mantar observatory at Delhi
Dave Morgan's photos of the main instruments in the Jantar Mantar at Delhi.
Jantar Mantar Delhi
A Delhi tourism site with a brief history of Jai Singh.

I came across the following inscription at the Jantar Mantar in Delhi on a memorial to Sawai Madho Singh, the Maharaja of Jaipur, who died in 1922:

Major General His Highness Saramad-i-Rajaha-i-Hindustan Raj Rajinder Sri Maharajadhiraja Sir Sawai Madho Singhji Bahadur Knight Grand Commander of the Most Exalted Order of the Star of India Knight Grand Commander of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian order (...) Donat of the Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem Doctor of Laws (Edin.) Maharaja of Jaipur Conveyed by Mumtazud-daulah Nawab Sir Mohomed Fyazali Khan Bahadur Minister K.C.I.E K.C.V.O C.S.H through Rai Bahadur Kawas Bala Bakhsh.

It appears that both the British and the Indians share a fondnes s for grandiose titles...

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Fractals have fascinated me since Benoit Mandelbrot's "beetle" first appeared some twenty-odd years ago. Back then, the fractals generated by my home computer were a disappointment when compared to the detailed images found in books. However, technology has moved on, and it's now possible to produce high quality fractal images on a PC using nothing more than a freeware fractal generator and image processing software. Fractal art has come of age, offering unique texture and detail - just take a look at some of the organic forms on the following web sites...

A collection of links to some interesting fractal art galleries and fractal art contest winners.
Fractal Art
This is a French web site with an intriguing user interface. If you thought fractal art was just about Mandelbrot and Julia sets, think again.

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The definitions that follow are taken from Chamber's Twentieth Century Dictionary. What amuses me about this word loop is that the lexicographer is so concerned with categorising and cross-referencing the tuatara that (s)he forgets to tell us anything helpful about it. The picture says so much more...

tuatara, too-a-ta'ra (tuatera, -ta'ra), n. a New Zealand lizard-like reptile (Sphenodon or Hatteria), the sole survivor of the class Rhyncocephalia. [Maori, spine on the back.]

Sphe'nodon n. genus, also known as Hatteria, to which the tuatara (q.v.) belongs. [Gr. sphen, sphenos, a wedge, odous, odontos, a tooth.]

Hatteria, hat-e'ri-a, n. Sphenodon. [Origin unknown.]

Rhyncocephalia, ringk-o-si-fa'li-a, a primitive order of reptiles extinct except for the New Zealand tuatara. [Gr. rynchos, a snout, kephale, head.]

Has anyone come across another word loop similar to this?

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Here are a few links to some of the other interesting or unusual web sites relating to the English language that I have come across...

Weird Words Index
Michael Quinion gives the meaning and origin of some "weird" words in this curious collection which just appeals to my sense of the bizarre.
Word Spy
Word Spy's compilation of neologisms and recent changes in word usage is a good pointer to where the english language is going. I come back regularly.
Molecules with Silly or Unusual Names
Three pages of chemical names with humorous connotations from Bristol university. Go on, you have to laugh at some of them. I mean, who dreamt up Arsole, or lays claim to Khanneshite?

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